Jay Parsi: Boy, 3, given '5 times prescribed dose' of opioids, hospital blames blunder on cyber attack

Jay Parsi: Boy, 3, given '5 times prescribed dose' of opioids, hospital blames blunder on cyber attack
Jay Parsi, 3, was monitored throughout the night in the hospital in case his heart rate or oxygen levels dropped due to the 'megadose' of the painkiller (kellraeb/Instagram)

DES MOINES, IOWA: A hospital in Des Moines has come under the scanner for giving an Iowa toddler a "megadose" of opioids while he was recovering from tonsil removal surgery. The hospital, however, claimed that a cyber-attack was to be blamed for the error. Jay Parsi, 3, of Urbandale, who had his tonsils removed on September 30, had to return to MercyOne Children's Hospital a few days later after he complained of trouble eating and drinking. The doctors then strongly advised the parents to admit the toddler to the emergency room for fluids.

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As per the hospital, due to the cyber-attack, certain systems were taken offline, leaving personnel treating patients without computerized access to records and order medication. While waiting for their son to receive fluids, his parents Kelley and Raj heard this information. Jay was ultimately allowed to stay the night in the hospital and the following morning he was given an opiate (Tylenol with codeine) and a steroid. Later, a resident doctor informed Kelley that her son had received an unusually high amount of painkillers for someone his size and age. The doctor explained to the family that the blunder took place as the computer system was down and the staff had to physically administer and arrange dosages. 

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The explanation, however, didn't convince Jay's mother. "They never did explain how a downed computer system led to this,” Kelley told the Des Moines Register. “I think they were trying to say it was written down wrong or the pharmacy read it wrong, but then, why wouldn't anyone check? It was an awful, awful experience...We didn't know what to do.” The hospital staff provided Narcan in Jay's room as a precaution in case his heart rate or oxygen levels dropped due to the "megadose" which was "five times his prescribed dosage and two times his body weight."

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Jay was watched for six hours for any possible side effects from the drug. “I anxiously watched monitors all day but he was up talking and tolerated it well,” the mother wrote on Instagram. By the weekend, Jay returned to normalcy. The family claimed they are now "scared to death" to return to the hospital, despite their son's safe return home.

On October 3, MercyOne stated that it was experiencing an "IT security issue". It is one of the many hospitals that have been impacted by the cyber-attack. Some hospitals had to reroute ambulances and cancel appointments as a result of the incident. The second largest nonprofit healthcare organization in the US and operator of MercyOne, CommonSpirit Health, apparently had a ransomware attack on its system. Over 140 hospitals in 21 states were impacted by the attack. According to the Des Moines Register, the hospital's systems are still currently unavailable. On October 3, MercyOne took the "precautionary step" of shutting down its systems. Although several hospitals are still unavailable as a result of the hack, CommonSpirit has not yet disclosed how patient information has been impacted.

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